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Tech Data Canada expands digital signage play

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Tech Data_logoDistributor sees growing opportunity as it rounds out solutions offerings

Tech Data Canada is expanding its offerings in the digital signage arena, recognizing a profitable trend for big screens in the channel.

The distributor has been offering large screen and commercial displays for more than five years, or “about as long as the vendors have been shipping them,” said Greg Myers, vice president of marketing at Tech Data Canada. But the distributor spent the last half of 2011 quietly building out a full solutions practice outside just the screens. Those efforts are starting to show strong results – the distributor posted 37 per cent growth in the digital signage arena in the last quarter of the year.

Over recent months, Tech Data Canada has added new product management and sales resources dedicated to digital signage to help make sure it has the market covered in Canada. Myers said the distributor’s efforts at expanding its linecard have taken it beyond the screens – into the accessories, mounts, media players and software that power the solutions.

“There’s a lot of content involved in this marketplace,” Myers said. “It’s not a pure technology buy – there’s a strong marketing budget component to this. We’re engaging today with vendors who offer the technology, but we’re also talking to content providers.”

Those discussions include both bringing their software and content offerings to market through Tech Data Canada, as well as making sure the distributor has a firm understanding of the whole digital signage market. Bringing the software into distribution would be a major plus, Myers said, because while software drivers for digital signage come in a variety of formats – Web-based, SaaS and traditional licensing – there is one thing in common: the routes to market.

“Much of this bypasses the channel today,” Myers said. “Our goal is to not only provider the hardware components, but also provide consulting value – to understand how content is generated and the costs for generating content.”

As part of its push into digital signage, the distributor held its first-ever event focused on the market last quarter in the Toronto area. Myers said the event had “an overwhelming response” from the VAR community, which makes sense given that it’s a market that makes a lot of sense for traditional network VARs, but not one that many VARs are necessarily comfortable with today.

“The players in this marketplace are a mix of traditional specialists with significant video experience as well as VARs being drawn in,” Myers said. “Much of this stuff hangs off the enterprise network, so as companies like Avaya, Cisco and HP provide more and more video solutions on the network, you’ll begin to see this become part of the [network] core more than in the past.”

It’s a technology that’s rapidly “going mainstream,” Myers said. While a good portion of Tech Data Canada’s digital signage business is still into traditional markets for the technology – big banks, hotel and restaurant chains and the like – a growing number of local VARs are finding opportunities that make sense with their customer base, he reported.

“There are ne software- and Web-based solutions that allow smaller proprietors to deliver digital signage in their venue, and the commercial VAR channel will represent a growing share of that opportunity.”

Because of that growing opportunity, Myers said the goal for 2012 is to focus on bringing in more niche vendors to further round out its solutions offerings, and to use its new devoted resources to keep growing the market, and thus its revenues. Perhaps last quarter’s 37 per cent is just the beginning.

“I wish all of our business was growing at that kind of rate,” Myers said with a laugh.

Source: Tech Data

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